The theme of this month’s synchroblog is “CHRISTIANS AND THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE – As Congress debates how to handle illegal immigrants already within U.S. borders and how to more effectively handle hopeful immigrants in the future, Christians will need to consider what it means to love these new neighbors in our midst.”
This immigration theme is of interest to me, not out of any interest in US domestic politics, nor out of any entrenched support for increasing immigration, but out of concern for the way immigration debates are often hijacked by xenophobic sentiment.
So, in a way, the important issue for me is not what decision we arrive at, but how we arrive at it. This is where our recent experience in Australia has left me less than impressed. No, let’s be honest, at times I’ve been outright disgusted.
I think it’s time we recover a forgotten truth. That the Christian practice of hospitality, that we are all called to, is the opposite of xenophobia. Literally. For the ancient Greek word for hospitality was philoxenos. Philos, φίλος (friend)+xenos, ξένος (stranger,foreigner). The one who shows friendship to strangers. Not fear.
With this in mind, let’s consider some of the New Testament teachings on what it means to be a Christian leader:
1 Timothy 3:2 - Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable (philoxenos), able to teach,
Titus 1:8 - Rather he must be hospitable (philoxenos), one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
1 Peter 4:9 - Offer hospitality (philoxenos) to one another without grumbling.
So, whatever we decide on immigration, let our conversations be salted with philoxenos, not xenophobia. If we argue for restrictions, let us first rid ourselves of faithless fear.
Other synchrobloggers are:
Jonathan Brink - Immigration Synchroblog
Mike Victorino at Still A Night Owl – Being the Flag
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – Together We Can Make Dreams Come True
Sonnie Swentson-Forbes at Hey Sonnie – Immigration Stories
Matt Stone at Glocal Christianity – Is Xenophobia Ever Christlike?
Kathy Escobar at the carnival in my head – it’s a lot easier to be against immigration when you have papers
Steve Hayes at Khanya – Christians and the Immigration Issue
Ellen Haroutunian - Give Me Your Tired
Bethany Stedman – Choosing Love Instead of Fear
Joshua Seek – Loving Our Immigrant Brother
Amanda MacInnis at Cheese Wearing Theology – Christians and Immigration
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian – You’re Absolutely Right
Peter Walker – Immigration Reform
Steven Calascione at Eirenikos – The Jealousy of Migration
George Elerick at The Love Revolution - We’re Not Kings or Gods
Beth Patterson at Virtual Tea House – What we resist not only persists but will eventually become our landlord
K. W. Leslie at The Evening of Kent - On American Immigration